Australia’s mining industry is gearing up to invest as never before, its concerns about the carbon tax apparently no constraint.
The latest capital expenditure figures show the mining industry spent a record $47.2 billion on machinery, buildings and structures the year to June and plans to boost that to $82.1 billion in the year ahead - an increase of 74 per cent.
Across all industries the Bureau of Statistics has recorded plans for new investment of $148.8 billion this financial year, 6 per cent more than was reported three months ago, and almost certainly an underestimate.
If actual investment exceeds intended investment by the usual margin, investment in 2011-12 could hit $160 billion, up 35 per cent on 2010-11.
Even manufacturers plan to lift investment in 2011-12 despite some job losses and complaints about the high dollar. The Bureau says manufacturers will invest $13.1 billion this financial year, up from $12.2 billion last year.
The figures were released as around 2000 BlueScope Steel workers gathered in Wollongong in protest at the company’s plan to to shed more than 1000 jobs...
"There are significant macroeconomic issues affecting steel and manufacturing," Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes told reporters said after the meeting. "But there is also chronic mismanagement of this company.”
The investment intentions figures are often at odds with the public statements of industry leaders because they are collected directly from chief financial officers who simply report the plans under way.
Treasurer Wayne Swan said they showed great faith in the future of the Australian economy.
“I’ve just come back from Asia and I can tell you that international investors have faith and want to invest here because of our very strong fundamentals, despite the fact that many people are in that patchwork economy.
The figures provide a geographical snapshot of a two-speed economy showing investment growing very strongly in Queensland and Western Australia and going backwards in every other state.
A key input into the calculation of Australia's gross domestic product they suggest next Wednesday’s June quarter figure will be positive, largely reversing the slide in the March quarter that followed the Queensland floods and cyclone.
Separate retail figures show spending on a downward trend in NSW and South Australia and climbing in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland.
National spending rebounded 0.5 per cent in July after sliding 0.6 per cent in May and 0.1 per cent June. Over the year to July spending failed to keep pace with inflation, climbing just 1.4 per cent.
Published in today's SMH and Age
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